Choosing a car is much like choosing a house. It’s a significant financial and personal investment (and commitment). You can’t just choose the one you like based on appearances and call it a day. You must know what you both need and want and then reconcile the two to fully find the car that’s best for you. However, fully realizing what you want and what you can be quite the challenge. Below are some guidelines to help you out.
What Are Your Priorities?
When buying your first car, you have to think about what you are looking for in a car. Before you consider the features of a car, like whether it has a lot of horsepower or if it’s a smart car or not, you should think about the practicality first. You should ask yourself questions like, how many passengers do you plan to seat, are you driving off-road or city streets, is fuel economy important to you, etcetera.
These things matter because it’s the very condition you will subject you and your car to. If you travel a lot or even switch residences frequently because of a job, a car that can transport you as effectively as a moving company can transport your possessions becomes all the more necessary. Take a moment to sit down and truly look at what it is that you need.
Make Sure You Set Your Budget
Before going to a car dealer, make sure you have already set your budget, and it’s even ideal if you have a pre-approved car loan already. This way, you won’t be swayed to get a car that’s more than you can afford. Another point you have to consider is the loan payment. Ideally, you’d want your loan to cost only up to 10% of your salary because you’d still have to add other costs on top of it.
Sticking to your budget can be quite difficult if you haven’t laid out what you want. This is why having a list of priorities (in order of importance too) of what you absolutely need in a car is helpful: it can help you to better manage what you can do without and better make the most of your limited budget.
Consider Your Options
Now that you have a budget, it’s time to look for a car. While many people already have a car in mind even before setting a budget (they usually set their budget with a specific car in mind), you can still consider other brands and models within your budget range and compare. Go out to find the most economical and cost-efficient care for you.
You might be surprised to find that different brands offer similar features and specifications but at drastically different price ranges. Of course, some brands might not offer considerable differences when it comes to performance, but the prices should be competitive enough for you to have an option.
How Much Is Maintenance?
As mentioned earlier, owning a car isn’t just about paying off your loan. It also means spending on maintenance and other fees. Learn about the maintenance cost of your car choice and see if it’s worth keeping even after you’ve paid for the loan.
Check for Sales
A car purchase is still a purchase: there are most probably sales and discounts. Look around, don’t stick to one car dealer. Different locations would most likely show you different price ranges (especially if those different locations have a considerably different segment of the population. Another idea is to wait or hunt for discounts and sales using software notifications on online listings. Be clever when it comes to purchasing: there’s always a cheaper option. Just be careful that there isn’t any dip in quality.
Schedule a Test Drive
You won’t be able to truly figure out if something is for you unless you test it. Fortunately, unlike a house, you can take a car for a test drive. Pay attention to how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are when driving. The minor inconveniences you feel during the quick test drive can balloon into something that can interfere with your driving when actually using it daily. This step is crucial, especially if you’re buying a used car. But even when buying new, it’s still an important step to take.
Purchasing a car can be one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make. And in many cases, it’s the first financial commitment many take. That’s why being careful about what kind of car you get is important. It’s not just something that you can easily replace. It’s a considerable investment that you will sink time and resources into. Choosing the right one can mean happiness and even the cost-efficiency of all your efforts.